“It’s the fate of most Ping-Pong tables in home basements eventually to serve the ends of other, more desperate games.”
Rare is the novel that can make you laugh out loud one minute and hate yourself the next. This is such a novel and it is just as good as all the critics would have you believe. Every family is a bit of a basket case aren’t they? Recognising aspects of my own in this novel was equal parts mortifying, entertaining and sad. It really is no surprise to me that this novel has been so well regarded ( yay another tick on the 1001 novel list) including winning the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction and 2002 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (thanks Wikipedia).
Albert and Enid Lambert remind me of my parents, particularly in the way Enid espouses judgements on all who will listen and Alfred’s worsening grip on reality. I could see the worst aspects of myself and my brother in the behaviour of their three children, Gary, Denise and Chip. Let's hope my parent's upcoming cruise is not as eventful.
I'm glad I read this when I did. I think I'm the right age. Old enough to have lived and made some interesting mistakes, and young enough to be confused by the notion of ageing and the way it creeps up on you. Sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud like Denise, trying to be the perfect daughter. Its probably something a lot of people can relate to. Substitute the ping pong table with a pool table and you have my parent's house summed up.
5 out of 5 - all families are weird, all relationships are strange.